Shitting Out a Snake

I am standing in front of the bathroom mirror, inspecting my naked belly. It feels like it is growing, stretching and full. But in the reflection, nothing looks different. Suddenly, I am doubled over in pain. The pressure grows and I have an urgent desire to relieve myself. I sit on the toilet, surging forward as my guts lunge and swirl. It feels like the worst case of constipation. I break out in a sweat as the pain and pressure intensify and then retract. I begin to wonder if I am having contractions, about to give birth. But I’m not pregnant. Then, my bowels begin to empty. The sensation is slow and steady and feels like a never-ending release. Finally, feeling complete relief, I stand and look down. Instead of the expected shit, I see an enormous snake coiled inside the toilet bowl.


This potent dream came to me during a time of intense emotional work. I was in the process of shedding layers of trauma and fear while learning to recognize patterns that no longer served me. The abuse of my past still had a hold on me and I remember wondering if I would ever feel free from the emotional pain. Then, this dream emerged in which I literally shit out a snake. I came to understand that this dream was my body’s way of releasing some of that deeply rooted fear. It was my initiation into transformative healing. It was a symbolic death and rebirth— a release of the past in order to begin again.

Ten years later, this dream returns to me while trying to make sense of the current state of our country and the world. It seems that every day we wake to another shit-storm. Daily triggers scratch at our most tender wounds and can leave us feeling overwhelmed by trauma and grief. The volatile weather patterns, polluted air and dangerous impacts of climate change beg for our attention. The daily spewing of fear, hatred, ignorance, misogyny, and total disregard for life can make us wonder about our humanity. Rising up from the noise are all the unmet needs and silenced voices that have been stewing in our collective bowel, putrefying and gurgling, growing more uncomfortable and painful. It feels like the worst case of constipation finding its way out into the open, and with it comes the stench of all that's been ignored, hidden, and avoided. 

It seems we are shitting out a snake and something about that leaves me feeling hopeful. This purging, this uncoiling means we have the opportunity to release and heal, to begin again from a more enlightened place. We can wake up each day that we are blessed to be alive with the intention to pay attention and stay awakened to ways in which we can be generous to life. We can begin the clean-up and healing by staying open to other perspectives, staying in the difficult conversations and tending wholeheartedly to the individual and collective pain. And when we feel overcome with grief for all that feels tender and out of our control, we can mourn what troubles us while also holding space for what is beautiful and working in our lives. We can channel what touches our deepest fears and sorrow into small daily acts of generosity and offerings that harness our collective goodness in the face of the daily shit-storm.